Progress in technology has rendered an eventual one world order and globalisation inevitable. However, globalisation has made many people in many lands to suffer. It is imperative therefore to consider the defects of globalisation and seek ways and means to remove them. To discover the flaws of globalisation there can be no better way than to study what led to the plight of its victims. Let us consider the plight of arguably globalisation’s biggest victim.
Judging by the yardstick of a nation’s potential matched against its performance the biggest victim of globalisation could well be the United States of America . Two decades ago the US was the unchallenged leading world power. The standard of living of its people was the world’s envy. Today the US is struggling to have its say in a multi-polar world. Its economy is in a shambles. Its citizens are losing jobs, homes and social security. The US is a huge debtor to China and Japan . If globalisation allows big multinational corporations (MNCs) to exploit people worldwide how come the nation in which the largest and most powerful MNCs are headquartered is declining so quickly? The answer is, this happened because of corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen. Globalisation would be a boon if democracy was allowed to function. Globalisation became a curse after democracy and national interest were subverted by corrupt politics and corporate greed.
Consider how America got into its present mess. To keep the economy buoyant it was necessary to keep up demand. To do that, wages and purchasing power also had to keep pace. Higher wages meant lower profits. To maximize profits business corporations utilized globalisation to invest in cheap labour outside the US . The obvious giant sweat shop for cheap labour was China . Violating all labour norms, ignoring minimum wage norms, the US big business and China got into a mutually beneficial arrangement. The virtual slave labour in China manufactured goods for western business firms at a fraction of the cost which would have occurred through manufacture in the US itself.
This arrangement suited US business by augmenting its profits. It suited the czars of totalitarian China by allowing communist party functionaries to become billionaires while Chinese labour was ruthlessly exploited judging by world standards. Corrupt US politicians allowed a five to one adverse balance of trade with China for decades because they were bribed by both the business corporations in the US as well as by representatives of Chinese business interests. The bulk of Chinese exports were owned by the People’s Liberation Army which used the profits to enrich China ’s army personnel and build up China ’s military might. One representative of the PLA in the US , Wang Jung, was brazen enough to actually visit the White House in order to donate funds to a US President!
In the early years of globalisation the representatives of American labour wanted to enclose a social clause in the Dunkel Draft which laid guidelines for global trade. The social clause demanded some correlation between labour wages in the first world and the third world. This would have impeded the flight of US capital from the domestic to the international market. If this clause had been implemented it would have benefited American labour by halting the loss of jobs created by the flight of capital. It would have benefited Indian labour by raising the wages of workers. But the clause was shot down because of opposition by US business interests as well as by Indian trade union leaders who were concerned more by empty notions of economic sovereignty than by the interests of the workers they claimed to serve. While Indian trade union leaders and the Left succeeded in preventing a rise in workers’ wages by opposing the social clause, they could not prevent the influx of foreign direct investment that was attracted by cheap Indian labour.
It may be seen therefore that the perils of globalisation, and indeed of the worldwide economic meltdown, are traceable not to esoteric economic reasons; they arise from the subversion of democratic norms that are enshrined in the constitutions of all democratic nations and in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. These factors are not economic, they are strictly political. Globalisation cannot serve humankind as long as democracy is subverted to harm the national interest. The subversion of democracy cannot be prevented unless political corruption and corporate greed are curbed.